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Talking Points: Panda cubs, the moon’s age and yoga for inmates

PICK OF THE LITTER: Giant panda cubs lie in a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province.



Does the moon suddenly look younger to you? The Los Angeles Times reports that new research has put the moon's age at around 4.4 billion years old, which is roughly 100 million years younger than previously believed. The age reduction comes from renowned geochemist Richard Carlson who, like scientists before him, has employed radioactive dating to ascertain the age of lunar rocks collected during the Apollo space missions. Previous efforts to determine the moon's age were subject to a large margin of error, but Carlson asserts that improved technology has enabled him to narrow that margin. "Back in the seventies, you couldn't distinguish between 4.45 and 4.55 billion years," Carlson said. "Today we can, and everything we are seeing suggests the 4.4 billion number."


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Doing time could soon include the downward dog. As reported in the Edmonton Journal, Canadian correctional advocates are pushing yoga and meditation as a way to boost inmates' well-being and even reduce prison violence. Building up to next month's conference of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, supporters of the plan are pointing to the success of yoga and meditation programs in the U.S. "We're interested in promoting offenders' return to the community with better skills than when they left it," said Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada. "If meditation helps them become more self-aware and helps them control their anger, then it's really advantageous."


Kudos to B.C. teen Ann Makosinski for thinking outside the box. CBC reports that the 15-year-old high-schooler from Victoria was recently named a winner at the Google Science Fair for her flashlight that derives power from its user's hand. Makosinski's invention contains tiny devices called Peltier tiles that generate electricity when heated on one side and cooled on the other. Since the flashlight is hollow, it allows one side of the tiles to be cooled by surrounding air, while the other side is heated by the warm hand. The method creates enough power to maintain a steady beam of light for 20 minutes. Makosinski received a trophy made of Lego, a $25,000 (U.S.) scholarship and a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" from either Google or CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).


"When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?'"

Don Marquis, humorist and journalist (1878-1937)

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